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Local politicians excited about federal, provincial broadband funding

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES/DURHAM: Officials from Kawartha Lakes and Durham Region are excited about recent investments made by the provincial and federal governments for broadband internet.

Recently, the province announced an additional $680 million in funding towards Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan. This funding adds to the previously committed $315 million, and according to a press release, will be used for “shovel-ready projects.”

“Members of the AMO and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association have been calling for investments in broadband infrastructure, particularly now, as we try to recover from COVID-19 and strive for long-term prosperity,” Kawartha Lakes mayor Andy Letham said, in a statement. “Today’s announcement by the Province of Ontario, on top of previous investments in connectivity, [is] welcome and appreciated.

It will help connect more homes and businesses in Ontario communities, increase their economic competitiveness, and improve the quality of life for residents and businesses.”

Durham Regional Chair John Henry also offered his support for this announcement.

“We have continued to advocate the provincial and federal governments [to] invest in this vital piece of modern infrastructure-throughout the years, in many ways, such as at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conferences. We understand the importance of connecting our region with fast and reliable broadband,” he said, in a statement. “That’s why I am welcoming the Ontario government’s announcement today, committing to an historic investment of nearly $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband and cellular access across the province.”

Later, on Tuesday, November 10th, the Regional Chair provided another broadband related statement, this one on a federal program.

“With the announcement of the $1.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund, we look forward to working with the federal government to secure funding for our broadband efforts here in Durham,” he said. “The Region is taking an active role in ensuring our underserved residents and businesses have access to broadband in the future. We have already applied to the provincial Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program for funding to deploy fibre to our rural communities, and with the alignment between these provincial and federal programs, we hope to access the support needed to significantly improve broadband coverage in Durham. Funding will allow us to create meaningful partnerships and focus on the communities with the greatest need for broadband support, such as our rural areas.”

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